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Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2017 – PayPal invoice link and upgrade of OCR service

Since end of October, the latest release of Microsoft’s ERP solution Dynamics NAV 2017 has been available. Many of the new features help to simplify users’ daily work with the system – including in financial accounting. Particularly significant new features include a new PayPal link in invoice documents and the upgrading of the OCR service which was introduced in the 2016 version.

In this age of online banking, along with PayPal, Microsoft is responding with a special innovation, offering the chance to insert a hyperlink for the online payment service into the invoice.

Invoice with PayPal link
Invoice with PayPal link

By clicking on this link, customers are forwarded directly to PayPal, allowing them to pay the respective invoice more conveniently and more quickly online. The necessary invoice information is transferred to PayPal by Dynamics NAV, so the customer has just to confirm the payment.

PayPal Login
PayPal Login

The link can also be attached subsequently to sales invoices that have already been booked. In addition, Dynamics NAV 2017 allows the user to flexibly configure which documents should contain a PayPal link. The link can be added to both individual invoices and all invoices as standard with the corresponding Settings.

Payments configuration
Payments configuration

Improvement of e-services

To simplify the completion of sales processes for users, the previous version of Dynamics NAV introduced a special OCR service. Along with the introduction of the PayPal invoice link, the OCR functionalities have now been upgraded.

With the text recognition service from Lexmark, incoming receipts in PDF format (scanned or received electronically) can be converted into a structure which is easily processed by the ERP system.

So far it has only been possible to transmit header data and invoice amounts via the OCR service to a partial extent. Dynamics NAV 2017 simplifies this process as the article and general ledger account lines are also extracted. Invoice capture with OCR can be seen to be especially valuable for repeat invoices, since items can be determined easily using cross-references (e.g. the manufacturer). In addition, the new visual Lexmark website helps with checking invoices as well as with recognizing creditors and items.

More information on the use of the OCR service in Dynamics NAV is available in our blog article “Incoming invoice process with OCR in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2016” and in the following Video:

Lexmark Invoice Capture Service
Lexmark Invoice Capture Service

Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2017 officially available

As announced a few weeks ago, Microsoft has now officially launched its latest release Dynamics NAV 2017 on the market. According to Microsoft, the new version of the ERP system puts the worlds of NAV and Office 365 closer together, enhances the platform in different areas and creates completely new opportunities with various apps and Extensions.

Dynamics NAV 2017 Features
Quelle: Microsoft

With the release of Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2017, users and developers have now the following new functions, enhancements and improvements available:

  • Linked directly to Office 365 for easier navigation between Dynamics NAV and Office applications, such as Outlook or Excel as well as Power BI integration
  • Numerous functional enhancements in Financial Management and E-Everything (e.g. improvement of OCR services, cash flow, financial reports, faster payment of invoices thanks to integrated links to payment services such as PayPal and simplified creation of account categories)
  • Integration of Cortana Intelligence for the specific analysis and use of business data and generation of intelligent forecasts and decision making – calculated by powerful machine learning
  • Enhanced user experience due to numerous web, app, and phone client improvements as well as Smart Notifications, which guide users through processes relevant to the context and an Assisted Setup Wizard, which supports the setting up and importing of data, besides other things
  • Improved CRM integration through simplified usage within Dynamics NAV and enhanced CRM functions
  • Simplified categorization, management and filtering of articles by allocating article attributes and enhancing sales documents
  • Many new options for users thanks to helpful extensions that are provided by the already rolled out AppSource (e.g. Quick Box and PayPal)
  • Numerous other new features, such as the integration of Power Apps to create and publish streamlined apps and Microsoft Flow to link various cloud-based data and services as well as many enhancements for developers (e.g. additional object types)

You will soon be able to obtain detailed information regarding the feature highlights mentioned and many other new functions in Dynamics NAV 2017 in our new Dynamics NAV 2017 blog series.

On November 1st, Microsoft also released its new cloud-based business solution Dynamics 365 on the basis of Dynamics NAV 2017 in North America and Canada. We will keep you informed about its content and differences to the “traditional” NAV.

Incoming invoice process with OCR in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2016

Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2015 Incoming Invoice Process with OCREven though, in keeping with tradition, invoices continue to be sent in hard copy by suppliers, Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2016 offers an opportunity to digitalise the process and thus map it more efficiently in the ERP process. Using an OCR service (optical character recognition) provided by Lexmark, each incoming receipt can be converted into a structure processed by NAV.

The new function sends PDF documents (scanned or electronically received incoming receipts) to the recognition service. The recognition service analyses and extracts the information located   centrally on the respective receipt and then supplies the user with an “incoming invoice file” to be processed directly by Microsoft Dynamics NAV on the basis of this information.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2015 Incoming Invoice Process with OCR

However, it should be mentioned at this point that the recognition focuses only on information of the invoice head (creditor, receipt no., amount etc.), so that the invoice can be recorded in a purchase/accounting sheet or purchase invoice/credit note in the financial accounting department. Then, by means of the configuration settings, the information recognised can be assigned to various NAV database elements. The recognition of line items and the associated creation of an item-specific invoice in NAV are not provided in this version. The determination of the corresponding general ledger account has to be defined by “Mapping Text to Account”, since it is not automatically linked.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2015 Incoming Invoice Process with OCR

The OCR service is available as standard for all users of the 2016 version and requires only a registration. The user then receives corresponding access data and a certain monthly volume of documents to be processed from Lexmark for free. Lexmark offers different rates that can be booked additionally, if the usage increases.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2015 Incoming Invoice Process with OCR

Electronic Invoices in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2016

Microsoft Dynamics NAV As the forwarding of invoice documentation to public agencies (B2G = Business to Government) will soon be obligatory in some European countries, in the latest version of its ERP-system Dynamics NAV 2016, Microsoft has created the application basis to send and receive invoice documentation in digital form.

Linked to this is the implementation of basic data structures for the standardised exchange of data and specific processes which consider the special attributes of incoming and outgoing digital documentation. It is important though, to point out that only the invoice / credit note document types have been implemented by Microsoft so far and can now be sent and received as described below.

Many companies have already automated their processes in this area with the help of EDI processes, and are generally realising the complete process chain, starting with the incoming order through the delivery, ending at the invoice with the corresponding digital documents. On this basis, the introduction of electronic invoices can simply be seen as being a further step towards the complete implementation of digital business processes. Nevertheless, this is an important step, since with the implementation of the invoice a wide-ranging basis has been created both on the setup side and the master data side.

Generic platform
Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2016 has been extended to be able to receive, manage, process and send digital documents in an XML-structure. The appropriate processes can be implemented in NAV on a parameter-controlled basis.

Dynamics NAV 2016 Electronic Invoice

In addition, the appropriate bases in the management of data have been created in NAV in order to support the exchange and allocation of communication parameters (management of conversion tables for units, allocation of the GLN (“Global Identification Number”) codes in the master data etc.). The status of the send/receipt transactions can be recognised by the administrative assistant at a glance at all times, and a drill-down in the activity log of the process is also possible. The GTIN (“Global Trade Item Number”) required for the identification of specific items has also been incorporated in the master data.

Sending of invoices
In the version of 2016, the following formats are provided for the sending of invoice data as standard:

  • PEPPOL AP Connectivity in the formats 2.0 and 2.1
  • Tradeshift
  • Creation of a file and/or and email with an attachment

PEPPOL is a concept which has been created by the European Union and consists of a platform that has been provided for the entire topic-area of “E-Procurement” (B2G).

Tradeshift provides a “Value Added Network” which supports the exchanging of documents in the B2B area. At the basic level it can be used free of charge.

Invoice data which corresponds to the above-mentioned conventions can be imported directly in Dynamics NAV.

Converter software
If your company takes a wide-ranging approach to the digital exchange of external notifications (EDI = “Electronic Data Intercharge”) and internal notifications (EAI = “Enterprise Application Integration”), then as before, the use of specialist software for the conversion, mapping and sending of documents is an economically viable idea (e.g. Microsoft BizTalk Server or Lobster). For this, all the standard formats (EDIFACT, IDoc, VDA etc.) and special methods of transfer (SMTP, AS2, FTP, X.400, OFTP etc.) have been implemented as standard.

For standard EDI notification types (ORDERS, DESADV, INVOIC), in the scope of the sector solutions, prisma informatik has provided an exchange structure on the basis of OPENTRANS. This structure enables the exchanges between NAV and the converter software to consistently take place in a uniform way.

Further technical development in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2016 and “E-Everything”

Microsoft Dynamics NAV In many versions prior to NAV 2016, technical work had already started on ensuring a high degree of connectivity with the outside world. As a central ERP-system, Microsoft Dynamics NAV has the most modern technical standards, which enable it to exchange data with other systems in real time and to outsource processes unnotelessly for the user to subsystems.

By establishing a higher interoperability with other, above all specialised systems, it is becoming increasingly unimportant to include complex or maintenance-intensive and varying functionality as an individual programming in the ERP-solution. With the so-called Web Service Communication, associated with the XML-based data exchange, it is now possible to design processes synchronically in machine-to-machine communication. This concept has meanwhile become indispensable in many applications in modern ERP-architecture.

Expansion of the Development Environment

For this reason Microsoft is expanding the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) with every version of Dynamics NAV, to implement the design of the application and the process control function effectively with the latest technologies.

Since Dynamics NAV is increasingly positioned by Microsoft in a Cloud Operating Model, it is of greater significance that the solution operated in this way is not optionally individualised, as this will push the supply platforms to their limits. As such, also in the version NAV 2016 a number of innovations were introduced, which essentially target the backgrounds mentioned above.

Developers can now – as in other development environments – also query so-called “events” across the entire system in Dynamics NAV, in order to react in the program code to status changes in other areas of the program. With this technology it is possible to integrate additional functions in the individual processes, without directly modifying the core source code of the standard application. For the user and operator of the ERP-solution, this ultimately means that fewer medium and long-term costs are generated during maintenance work and updates.

Likewise, separated “Apps” can be installed in Dynamics NAV, which do not change the existing object model, although they do have an influence on the data and functional model of the application.

Microsoft not only updates the system “superficially” or in terms of “contents”, but also ensures that current technical requirements can be met. With version 2016, developers and designers are also provided with further high-performance tools to create specific applications, which are of great benefit to them in their day-to-day using.

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